With three road games out of their next five ACC games, including games at Syracuse and at Pittsburgh, what does Duke need to do to get their offense going again?
- The team needs to get Jabari Parker the ball where he can score efficiently. There is no doubting that Parker is as talented as any freshman in the country, but the combination of teams forcing him away from the basket and Parker’s mentality of shooting whenever and wherever he gets the ball has led to a dismal start to 2014 for him. In 2014, Parker is averaging just over 10 points per game on 14 of 46 from the field, including 4 of 15 from behind the arc. Duke’s offense needs to include sets which get Parker the ball around the basket or on the perimeter with plenty of time to shoot.
- Rodney Hood has stepped up to try and pick up the scoring slack for the team, averaging 22 points per game in the four 2014 games. Still, in both of the losses and the close win against Virginia, Hood has been trying to force too much to happen and gone away from letting his shots develop organically in the offense. It’s tough to blame him too much, as he has done a lot of this with Coach Krzyzewski putting Parker on the bench, but Hood needs to work on understanding time and score scenarios and adjusting his game as needed.
- Duke needs another reliable shooter on the perimeter which would allow Hood to attack the basket and have Parker play around the basket. Heading into this season, Rasheed Sulaimon was supposed to be that guy, but lack of production had his role cut significantly as the season as gone on. The Virginia game may be the turning point Sulaimon and the Duke offense needs to get going again. Sulaimon scored 21 points off the bench on 7 of 11 from the field and 4 of 5 from three-point range. One of those threes sealed the victory for Duke in the four-point win.
- Quinn Cook has been trying to pick up some of the slack in the scoring as well, but this team is at its best when Cook can focus on running the offense and taking scoring opportunities when they appear. Cook is averaging almost 6 assists per game with a 3 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio, but he has also taken 45 shots over the past 4 games, which is not the ideal for this offense.
These offensive fixes won’t cure Duke’s issues, as their defense, while showing improvement, still isn’t very good, but the foundation is certainly there for this team to get everything in line come March for a deep NCAA Tournament run.